Amateur Baseball: Bears seek spot in state tournament
The amateur baseball season has started in the area and here is a look at other area teams.
Cannon Falls Bears
2011 record: 22-19, 13-9 CCVL
Key additions: Nate Otto, Josh Harrison
Key losses: Nick Nobach, Logan Godfrey
The Cannon Falls Bears return to the field this season in search of a state tournament berth after missing on two opportunities last season.
Cannon Falls ended last year with a pair of losses in games to advance to the state tournament. The Bears will play in Region 4 this season and vie for a spot at state against teams like Mankato, Blue Earth and Waterville.
Cannon Falls boasts a veteran group, many with college baseball experience.
"The strength of this team lies in our depth and our strong team chemistry," ninth-year manager Keith Meyers said. "Everyone works at getting better to help the team win and we have confidence in whoever is in the field or at the plate."
The Bears will deal with the loss of starting first baseman Nick Nobach and starting center fielder Logan Godfrey.
Nick Otto will likely replace Godfrey in center field. Otto has played with Miesville and Hampton in the past and has experience in the league. Josh Harrison, who previously played with St. Martin, will play in the infield and pitch, Meyers said.
Zeke Williams will return to the leadoff spot while Luke Winchell will likely hit second and Otto third.
Meyers and Cory Hedeen will take on the majority of the pitching duties. Meyers is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts this season and Hedeen has thrown just three innings. Ethan Kuehn, Josh Harrison, Jared Woodward and Billy Coakley are among the team's other pitchers.
Plum City Blues
2011 record: 6-10 St. Croix Valley
Key additions: None provided
Key losses: Mark Luebker
Plum City returns the majority of its team this season and will mix in a few younger players, manager Tony Garner said.
Garner expects to get contributions from Chris Beiderman, Nathan Stein and Nathan Prissel.
"Chris will be pitching and playing different positions for us this year," Garner said. "We are hoping to have Chris at most of the games this year as he can be a formidable bat in our lineup."
Two areas of concern coming into the season for Garner are pitching depth and clutch hitting. The team struggled at times last season to get clutch hits.
Hager City Skeeters
2011 record: 4-21 overall, 0-13 St. Croix Valley
Key additions: Elliott Jensen, Darren Georgakas, Tyler Regnier, Taylor Johnson, Dane Brathol
Key losses: Cody Furlong, Henry Jaeger
The Hager City Skeeters enter their fifth year of existence this season and for player/manager Cory Brathall it's a make-or-break year for the club after a 4-21 season.
The Skeeters did not win a conference contest last season and suffered from inconsistency, Brathall said. But with a core group returning, Brathall expects the team to perform better.
"If we struggle again it's going to be tough to get the talent to compete," Brathall said. "I think if you start winning it starts to make things easier. We're excited about the opportunity to step up."
Hager City will bring back Darren Georgakas, who missed all of last season with an elbow injury. His return will bolster a rotation with Elliott Foley, Elliott Jensen, Brady Brenner, Ryan Christenson and Austin Johnson.
"For the first time I feel pretty good about going into the season with what we have," Brathall said. "There's not those question marks like there has been the past couple of years."
Last season the Skeeters shuffled players in and out of the lineup depending upon who was available to play. Brathall said he doesn't anticipate any similar problems this season.
"Coming into this season we have a new commitment to be around more," he said.
Taylor Johnson and Tyler Regnier are two players Brathall said the team will rely upon this season. Johnson will play catcher and Regnier will play shortstop. The two will give the team solid defense up the middle, Brathall said.
No information was provided.